May 20, 2020 3 min read
The nutrition your dog receives is only as good as their body's ability to digest the food you give them, and absorb the vital nutrients within. Unfortunately, digestive problems are common in dogs, and don't always manifest in obvious symptoms. Signs like vomiting, soft or runny poop, or loss of appetite make it clear that something is wrong in your dog's tummy, but because nutrition affects many areas of health, even issues like excessively itchy skin, bad breath, lack of energy, a greasy coat, or weight gain can suggest that your dog's digestive system is not properly processing their food.
Quite often, these digestive problems boil down to an imbalance in your dog's digestive environment. Dogs' digestive systems are very different from ours. For us, digestion starts in the mouth, where our teeth grind up our food, and the enzymes in our saliva start to break down each mouthful into its component nutrients. Dogs, on the other hand, gulp down their food quickly, as their saliva contains no enzymes, and their teeth aren't designed for the same kind of chewing. Your dog's food is broken down entirely in their stomach, and food stays there for much longer.
Many things work together within your dog's stomach and intestines to process food. Living, beneficial bacteria break down large food particles, produce vitamins, and protect your dog from diseases, while natural enzymes secreted by the pancreas dissolve food into their component nutrients. That is why the health of their natural gut environment is critical for good nutrition - if your dog's system isn't producing enough probiotics or enzymes on its own, many of the essential vitamins and minerals in their food are not being absorbed by their body, but are simply passing through and ending up in their poop.
As common as digestive issues can be, fortunately, dietary solutions are equally common. If you suspect your dog is experiencing a digestive problem, or if you just want to optimize their ability to benefit from the nutrition they receive, including some foods in their diet which are rich in natural probiotics, like kefir, low-sugar yogurt, or miso, can boost their stomach's own probiotic content for a healthier gut. Probiotics are especially recommended after your dog has been treated with antibiotic drugs, since those drugs aren't able to distinguish between the bad bacteria which causes illness, and the good bacteria which your dog needs to be healthy.
Certain superfoods, such as pineapple and papaya, contain natural digestive enzymes that help increase the nutritional breakdown of other foods your dog eats. As an added benefit, both of those incredible fruits are extremely rich in many other vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants that can greatly benefit your dog's nutrition.
Many natural dietary supplements also contain probiotics and digestive enzymes. In fact, this is one of the most popular types of supplements, since even healthy dogs can greatly benefit from improved digestion. Different types of bacteria help your dog's digestion in different ways, so in general, when shopping for probiotic supplements, look for those which include a large number of different probiotic strains. Likewise, different enzymes help your dog process different types of foods: protease, amylase, and lipase will probably offer the most benefit for your dog, as they break down protein, starches, and fats, respectively, which make up the bulk of most dogs' diets. If your dog consumes a lot of veggies or dairy, you may also want to include cellulase, which helps with the absorption of vegetable matter, or lactase, which is essential for the breakdown of milk products.
You should also never underestimate the power of fiber to smooth out digestion problems. Fiber serves two vital digestive functions. The probiotic bacteria in your dog's stomach consumes fiber, so a fiber-rich diet can help your dog's own natural gut environment flourish. Fiber also absorbs moisture from digested foods, ensuring that your dog's stool is firm, and that they do not dehydrate through excessive loss of water in their waste. Foods like pumpkin and sweet potato are great, healthy sources of fiber for your dog.
That is why the team of veterinarians who helped formulate Canine Sciences' own Radiant Canine supplement included several probiotic strains and enzymes, pineapple and papaya, and natural sources of fiber.
Providing your dog with the foundation of a strong digestive system, along with a diet of fresh, unprocessed foods rich in naturally bio-available nutrients, will help ensure all the good health and long, happy years that come along with the best possible nutrition.
This post was brought to you by Canine Sciences, your partner in dog health through good nutrition.
Click here to learn more about Canine Sciences' mission, and how they can help you to identify and address the effects of bad nutrition in your dog.
Comments will be approved before showing up.